by Linda Pollard, Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation
“If ya gotta ask, ya just don’t get it.” Those words were the mantra of Bernie Meyers. Bernie never took himself or the world too seriously, and had little patience for those who did. Bernie’s life was lived with humor, even publishing a book, the Book of Bobo, with over 450 pages of a lifetime of his observations.
Bernie, or “Bobo” to his family and friends, passed away this summer at the age of 88. He is survived by his daughter Vicki Perlmeter and sons Bruce and Mike, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Bernie and his beloved wife, Roie or “Roro,” lived in the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home the last years of their lives. Roie passed away in 2011.
In a loving tribute to their parents, Vicki, Bruce and Mike established the Meyers Family Legacy of Laughter Endowment Fund at the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation. According to a family statement, “The mission of The Meyers Family Legacy of Laughter Endowment is to keep that laughter alive, to spread joy to the residents of the Rose Blumkin Home and the Jewish community it serves. If we can bring a smile, a chuckle, a giggle, or a guffaw to people who have earned the right to have a good, healthy laugh, then the full and happy lives of Roro and Bobo will have added up to something truly meaningful: The Joy of Laughter.” The Endowment will sponsor The Joy of Laughter Live Comedy Series. The Fund will present semi-annual events offered and organized by the activities department of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home to entertain and benefit the residents of the home, their families, and the entire community.
The first show in the Joy of Laughter Live Comedy Series will be on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, with a reception to follow. The entire community is invited to the premiere of what promises to be the start of a light-hearted and entertaining series. Native Nebraska comedians, Brad Stewart and Mary Maxwell, will be the first comedians in the series. Brad now lives in Lincoln after 16 years in Los Angeles, and Mary resides in Omaha. Brad entertains through observational humor and spontaneity. Brad’s videos on You Tube have had over 22 million hits. Brad opened shows for Joan Rivers over 50 times. Through the years, Mary Maxwell has entertained audiences with her wit and humor. No stranger on You Tube, Mary has had over 12 million hits. Her public speaking career began over 45 years ago, and Mary offers her humorous insights on aging and other life events.
Maggie Conti, Director of Activities and Outreach Programs at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, said, “I have never seen a couple enjoy each other more than Roie and Bernie.” Maggie stated that the couple cherished life and were aware that they had been blessed in their lives. All who knew Roie and Bernie were blessed as well, according to Maggie. She added that the couple was loved by the entire staff of the Blumkin Home. “Bernie was well respected; he was always a gentleman and a mensch of a man,” she stated.
Maggie said that the Legacy of Laughter event is a unique opportunity for comedy programming at the Blumkin Home. She remarked that this is a “win-win” for the community and a real “home run for the Residents of the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home – who doesn’t enjoy laughing?” Maggie is confident that the audience attending the semi-annual events will laugh, enjoy themselves and leave smiling.
To Bernie and Roie Meyers, family was the most important thing. Mike said, “Our parents loved to laugh with family and friends, at themselves, and the crazy world they made better.” It is clear that the love Bernie and Roie gave to their family was fully returned by their three children. Vicki, Bruce and Mike speak with great love and respect for their parents. Bernie wrote, “The best decision I ever made: To cohabitate with Roie and have children.”
“This project was our idea, and came naturally to us based on the way our parents taught us to live and enjoy life, even when things get a little tough. While we wanted to do something with humor, it was the staff of the Blumkin Home that came up with the idea of the comedy shows. We wanted to do more than have a plaque or a bench at the home. We wanted to be able to give the residents a few minutes of laughter for what can sometimes be a very lonely and isolated life. Most important, this is our very small way to say thanks to the Blumkin Home staff for eight years of loving care to Dad, and four years to Mom,” according to Bruce.
The Meyers family will be very involved in the planning of the series. Mike stated, “I have been searching for possible acts all the way from big names in New York City and Los Angeles to local comics.” Mike added, “Our dreams go beyond free comedy shows to possible improv classes, creative writing courses and more.”
“Mike, Bruce and Vicki are really excited to bring the upcoming Nov. 1 comedy show to the Blumkin Home residents and broader community,” commented Howard Epstein, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation. “All of us are looking forward to the premiere, and we’re anticipating a good crowd. It should be fun,” Epstein added. “It has been a treat to work with Bernie and Roie’s children to establish this endowment. Bernie and Roie will be remembered through the Joy of Laughter-Live Comedy Series by many generations of Omahans, thanks to the generosity of their children in establishing this endowment fund at the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation.”
The family of Roie and Bernie Meyers would like everyone to take a little time on November 1 to relax, laugh, enjoy and not take life so seriously. In Bernie’s own words, “The worst decision I ever made: One day I took myself seriously. The point? I want to have some fun – and, If ya gotta ask, ya just don’t get it.”